The Rapids Veterinary Hospital

1403 Michigan Ave
Sarnia, ON N7S OB1


What You Need to Know Before Surgery

Many people have questions about various aspects of their pet's surgery, and we hope this information will help.  It also explains the decisions you will need to make before your pet's upcoming surgery.

Is the anesthetic safe?

Here at The Rapids Veterinary Hospital, we do a thorough physical exam on your pet before administering anesthetics, to ensure that a fever or other illness won't be a problem.  We also adjust the amount and type of anesthetic used depending on the health of your pet. 

We feel that preanesthetic blood testing is important to help reduce the risk of anesthesia.  Every pet needs blood testing prior to surgery to ensure that the liver and kidneys can handle the anesthetic.  Even apparently healthy animals can have serious organ system problems that cannot be detected without blood testing.  We also double check red blood cell and platelet numbers in order to minimize risk.  If there is a problem, it is much better to find it before it causes anesthetic or surgical complications.   If serious problems are detected, surgery can be postponed until the problem is corrected.

We also feel that it is important that all pets have an intravenous catheter placed prior to anesthesia.  That way if we do run into complications we already have direct venous access.  Also by placing an IV catheter we can provide intravenous fluids throughout the surgical proceduring which allows us to help support your pet's blood pressure during the surgery.

Today's modern anesthetic monitors have made surgery much safer than in the past. During surgical procedures, a veterinary technician or assistant is present to assist with monitoring your pet's vitals.  As well we use a monitor which measures your pet's  EKG, oxygenation, heart rate and blood pressure. 

It is important that surgery be done on an empty stomach to reduce the risk of vomiting during and after anesthesia.  You will need to withhold food for at least 8 to 10 hours before surgery.  Water can be left down for the pet.

Will my pet have stitches?

For many surgeries, we use absorbable sutures underneath the skin.  These will dissolve on their own, and do not need to be removed later.  Some surgeries, especially tumor removals, may require skin stitches.  With either type of suture, you will need to keep an eye on the incision for swelling or discharge.  Most dogs and cats do not lick excessively or chew at the incision, but this is an occasional problem you will also need to watch for. Some clients will opt to purchase a collar for their pet to help prevent licking.   If there are skin sutures, these will usually be removed 10 to 14 days after surgery.  You will also need to limit your pet's activity level for a time and no baths are allowed for the first 14 days after surgery.

Will my pet be in pain?

Anything that causes pain in people can be expected to cause pain in animals.  Pets may not show the same symptoms of pain as people do; they usually don't whine or cry, but you can be sure they feel it.  Pain medications needed will depend on the surgery performed.  Major procedures require more pain relief than things like minor lacerations.

 Your pet will usually receive an injection of pain relief medication which will last for 24 hours while in clinic on the day of the surgery.  For dogs and cats, we recommend an oral anti-inflamatory starting the day after the surgery to minimize the risk of discomfort and swelling. .  We use newer medications, which are less likely to cause stomach upset.  The cost of the medication ranges from $15 to $20, depending on the size of your pet.

What other decisions do I need to make?

While your pet is under anesthesia, it is the ideal time to perform other minor procedures, such as nail trimming, ear cleaning, or implanting an identification microchip.   We will discuss these options at the time of admission for surgery.

When you bring your pet in for surgery, we will need to 5 to 10 minutes of time to fill out paperwork and make decisions on the options available.  When you pick up your pet after surgery you can also plan to spend about 10 minutes to go over your pet's home care needs.

We will call you the night before your scheduled surgery appointment, to confirm the time you will be dropping your pet off and to answer any questions you might have.  In the meantime, please don't hesitate to call us with any questions about your pet's health.